Act of Murder is interactive fiction in the style of an Agatha Christie murder mystery: an old manor in the countryside, five suspects and a dead body. You're charged with sorting out this whodunit in two hours or else face the displeasure of the Chief Inspector. Christopher Huang has added an additional layer of mystery to the game by randomizing the "who" in whodunit when the game initializes--the motives, clues and even the interactive hint system all switch to correspond with the randomly chosen culprit. This is a nice touch, and while I suppose it's intended to address replayability, I can't say I was in fact tempted to replay it. But that's not to say that this isn't a very good game; it certainly is. The writing is spare, but universally excellent and there are almost no typographical errors. The descriptions are not so filled with red herrings so that you go off chasing the wrong ideas, but do include just a few irrelevancies to turn you about here and there. The simple deduction puzzle that is at the heart of this game won't overly frustrate one, but still keeps one engaged. Technically speaking, the use of an inspector's notebook is helpful and clever and dispenses with the need for paper notes, but the notebook can inadvertently reveal the names of some objects that one has not yet unveiled through natural game play. Oddly, deducing the killer may not be the hardest part of the game--or at least it wasn't for me. The harder part was laying out the case before the Chief Inspector when he arrives. I don't think it is a spoiler to note here that if one fails to provide him with all of the evidence uncovered, the guilty party may escape prosecution on a not guilty verdict (which is so unsatisfying!). In other words, the prosecution of the case rests entirely on the evidence you relate to the Inspector at the end, so take care there.
This is a romantic fantasy adventure in what I believe to be the style of writers like Mercedes Lackey and Tamora Pierce. The game relies a lot on its world-building, and it is an interesting setting to be sure. As a result, however, there is an initial avalanche of exposition that is overwhelming and causes things to get off to a clumsy start as you have to remember a host of fantasy names to inquire about. The style settles down, though, as you are firmly directed into a series of tasks. The story is mildly engaging, with decent writing and minimal (but a few) typographical errors. The author is forthright about a bug that interferes with the questioning of other characters, but this is only a minor nuisance once you are aware of it. There is a sudden, jarring leap into overdrive near the end of the story that seemed somewhat out of place, but may be good to know about up front if you find the early parts too slow.
N.B.: I play in text mode only, so I cannot comment on the art, but there is a very convenient ASCII map for which I thank the author.
A short but fun game that relies on the inherent humor of its orc protagonist. Fortunately, the game is easily solved before the joke of doing things to your pants wears thin. This would be a great introductory game for anyone new to IF.